Category: Insights

My Top 9 NEW Obsessions brought to you by Pandemic Life

 

Furby Face by Meghan Tutolo

While my last post (eons ago, really) went into one of my many obsessions, aka Gillovny, this post is a silly little list-style tribute to my newer pandemic-born obsessions. I wanted to share these, because hey, maybe you need something to consume your days and torment your soul too. Or maybe you just need to know you’re not alone. Either way, let’s do this…

 

9. Morbid shit.

Morbid: A True Crime Podcast

Ok, I know it’s trendy to be obsessed with true crime shows, podcasts, documentaries, etc., but this shit has been my jam since, like, Windows 98. (Does anyone remember Rotten.com? Ugh.) It just so happens that now, due to the hype, there is a serious cache of all things murder and mystery. When you’re like me and you think you’ve watched/read/listened to just about every crime and unsolved case to ever happen in the good ol’ U.S.A., it might be time for podcasts. I scarcely listen to music anymore, but what am I rocking out to when I’m in the basement workshop making stained glass things?

Morbid, The Podcast
Hold onto your butts. These ladies bring the funny and make it feel like you’re just gabbing about murders with your bffs.

The Vanished Podcast
At the heart of my true crime obsession is disappeared/missing people cases, so it’s no wonder I have binged the entire show. There are plenty of episodes for binging and many are cases I’ve never heard of.

Radio Rental
Starring ya boy Rainn Wilson from The Office, this podcast features the wildest true stories told by the folks who lived them. I can’t stop thinking about them, to be honest. There is one in particular that has me 99.5% sure that we live in a simulation. #glitchinthematrix

Other noteworthy true crime podcasts include Unsolved Mysteries, In Your Own BackyardUnexplained Mysteries… honestly, if it’s a true crime podcast, I’ve probably listened to it.

8. Coins

Can I get anymore grandpa than this? Maybe not, but did you know that you could be carrying around, dropping, and/or Coinstar-ing coins that are worth dollars? Though I’ve always had a fascination with coins (and used to dream about finding really big ones as a kid?), finding this damn TikTok account had me on the floor dumping tins of change and paying with cash at the store. What I didn’t know is that coins that have obvious mistakes or blips in their printing are worth tons. The least you can do is make sure you don’t have a weird printed coin in your stash before you plop them down the Coinstar drain, you know?

7. HelloFresh

Puffer and HelloFresh

First, no, I’m not getting paid for this.

Here’s the deal: in my 30s, I’ve become so bored with food. Whether food boredom has to do with my age or just the pandemic, HelloFresh sort of woke up the kitchen a bit. I like that it introduces some new flavors to our routine of chicken + whole-grain carb + vegetable. For one, anything dubbed “Bulgogi” and I’m all in. WTF is that even?

Sure, Hello Fresh is easy and convenient (with no need for shopping and meal planning), but there is like ZERO food waste. My very-Italian father would be proud.

And hey, if you want to try Hello Fresh, they’re always bugging me to handout these codes for free weeks of meals to new peeps. So hit me up if you’d like to try them out. I promise it’s not a pyramid scheme. I get nothing in return.

6. Houseplant Harlot

Houseplant Love by Meghan Tutolo

If I’ve earned any new title since The COVID-19 rocked planet Earth, it would be Supposed Savior of Lost and Forgotten Houseplants. Ugh. It’s a nightmare, really. I go to Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe’s, etc. and find these sad-ass succulents and cacti that need love and somehow I attach feelings to them. So what? So I buy them in these near-death states—often without discount—then bring them home for A to repot and take care of. I mean, I’ve gotten better at handling my responsibilities, but I’m admittedly the worst. I just go around worried they’re all dying or not happy and point it out like a nagging and helpless housewife.

“A, I think this one is getting a fungus. Maybe you’re overwatering it? Do you think we should move it to the other window?”

If I were her, I’d axe me in my sleep. What’s crazy is that before this, I was KILLER of all houseplants. Like, I couldn’t keep a cactus alive.

My latest buy is a group of 3 carnivorous babes from an Etsy seller in Florida. I mean, I’m probably going to kill them, because I always do, but I was impressed with how well they shipped! Recommend Etsy and this seller for plants.

5. Rocks

I’ve always had a collection of gems and rocks and crystals, but I’ve definitely upped my game this past year. In trying to support small businesses—like myself—now more than ever, I’ve found some cool rock shops on Etsy. Loving Thyself Rocks has a pretty amazing selection of rocks and they are constantly adding more. But besides this, the duo behind the business has a pretty sweet story of overcoming some serious life shit.

Do crystals cure ailments? Can they alter ones mood? Will they bestow you with sixth-sense-style abilities? I don’t know the answers to these things, but I do know that everything has a certain energy to it and certain rocks promote certain vibes. No magic necessary.

4. Lottery Tickets

I can’t count on two hands the number of Friday or Saturday nights (during the pandemic) that we camped out in the living room with some soggy takeout, a true crime documentary and a couple of bingo or crossword scratch-offs. I mean, who have we become? Let me reiterate that it must be game-type scratchies. Otherwise, it’s just a quick ripoff. We prefer that slow burn apparently. Oh, and I won’t buy anything higher in price than like $5.

Helpful Tip #1:  Dimes work best for scratching, since they have little ridges along their sides. Plus, their tiny size makes them ideal for hitting those small bingo spaces.

Helpful Tip #2: The PA Lottery has an app that allows you to check the ticket’s QR code right there, so you know if you won or not right on the spot.

3. Furby?

Meghan Tutolo with Furby

Maybe the title for this category should just be Hunting For and Buying Weird Shit From My Childhood. So before COVID Times, I spent a lot of my “downtime” being a browsy browser. I love going to stores to just stroll around and look at things. It’s relaxing and inspiring to me. I don’t know why exactly, but yeah, obviously things changed and we were stuck in our houses, venturing out only for necessities. That energy had to go somewhere… and as much as I tried to limit my spending, it didn’t stop me from buying a brand-new, in-the-box Furby (1st series, 1998.)

Furby is not just an old toy. I found a cult-like following of Furby owners, Furby mods and Long Furby. Oh boy. Don’t go down that rabbit hole if you’re not prepared to see some weird shit. Look, I’ll be the first to admit that quarantine has been a one-way ticket to Strangetown for me. After all, life is too short to be boring and predictable, yeah?

2. Glass, Glass and More GLASS

Meghan Tutolo at Youghiogheny Glass

Let’s just say my collection of bandaids is beyond help.

I’ve been making glass thangs since before the COVID, but the ante has been SEVERELY upped. For the most part, I’ve been a machine. I mean, I work my day job and then hole up in the basement all night because I’m essentially a subterranean mole person at this point. The winter was the peak of this and after a while, it felt kind of garbage-y. When I finally did, I would go out into the world and blink and fumble like a gd day goblin.

But it’s not just the making that I love. I love buying glass too, so I totally leveled up in that category.

Shameless plug: If you’re interested in peeping some of my glass creations, I sell my glass only in-person and on Instagram. (Check out the FOR SALE story highlights button on my IG profile to see what’s currently available.)

1. TikTok

I know, I know, I know… I’m 92% sure I’m too old for TikTok. BUT the CAT VIDEOS. C’mon. I love making music montages of the beezes, making music-bopping parades of my glass creations and mostly just flipping through some of the most creative, insightful, inspiring and hilarious shit I’ve ever encountered. I loved Vine, but TikTok is master curator. For real. I’ve never been more seen in my life.

Plus, before TikTok, I spent my bedtime scrolling angrily through Twitter and feeling like one of those red-faced cartoon characters from the Loony Toons days… you know, the ones with the fat heads and the smoke kapow-ing out of their ears? Though goofy and often time-consuming (sleep-consuming?), TikTok has warmed my bones. Let me share my favorite TikTok peeps with you.

TikTok People to Follow:

  • HeadoftheHoochies – I’m not sure what it is about this QUEEN, but I love everything about her. I love watching her talk, scold her cats… and like, has anyone’s hair ever taken so many shapes, colors and styles in such a short period of time? She keeps it real and isn’t afraid to call out a “snow possum.” Get out of here.
  • Jimmy Darts – I am not sure if I’ve ever cried so many happy tears in my life. This sweet man goes around giving people money and doing awesome things for others. He gets suggestions from people who donate the money and he goes out and does the things. Sometimes they are silly as hell. But he’s made so many friends. Anyway, if you need your humanity restored, this is the account for you.
  • SubwayCreatures – Need I say more?
  • Keyon – I laugh so hard I cry. Might just be the funniest observational comic out there roaming these streets.
  • Bridget Chant – Well, it’s actually her bird Hamlet. Darling af. I’m not sure I can explain… you have to check him out for yourself.
  • And if you want to, you should follow me.

Okay, that’s enough of me. What are YOU up to? How are you coping? I hope you’ve found something—no, many things—that keep you grounded/contented/able to function. Hopefully they are things that aren’t too destructive? Tell me things!

mt

There’s no karma in weather

Old Toys // 2020 Copyright Meghan Tutolo

We get what we deserve.

Pffft. You don’t believe that do you? I don’t. I mean, I didn’t think so. I think… maybe somewhere deep down in there, I’m programmed to believe this, though. I know you’ve thought it too: If I do good, then good will come to me. We also like to tell each other: Bad people will “get theirs.” These delusions keep us going.

And why wouldn’t we think that? We’re trained from an early age to believe in rewards and consequences. Whether you grew up watching Disney movies and reading fairytales or learning the parables of the Bible, you were taught to be a good person through positive and negative reinforcement. This, then, evolves from the easy and superficial into the grown-up and severe—some omniscient score card, you might say. But if not your parents or teachers or older siblings looking over your shoulder, who is keeping score? The universe? God? You? Tallying up your good deeds and sacrifices, waiting to cash them in for some Get Out of a Jam Free Card?

You know this is complete bullshit, right?

But does that change the monologue you’re having inside your head? Are you still shocked when liars and thieves make it out seemingly unscathed? When bad people win the lottery? Get the girl? Do you tell yourself that their behavior will catch up to them? Does that make you feel better? Do you believe that?

No amount of hindsight rationalizing can blur the truth here. Life is wholly unfair. Bad people win. Good people lose. Good people die. Good people die too soon. Not just good people, amazing people die. Needed people. Talented people. People with so much to offer the world. People who inspire others. Good people who deserve good things die.

Fuck.

Some good people have died in the last few months. Amazing people. People whose lives meant so much to so many other lives. And I just can’t reconcile this in my brain. Even if I know what I know. Even then.

I know some of you have your religion. While it’s not my intention to shit all over that, religion isn’t a good enough answer for me. These are just my opinions, of course. “God” is so good at being a catch-all for the unknown and the unfair. It’s a nice way to comfort yourself, to bandage wounds. But that’s all it is. It’s something we’ve invented to do just that. And why? Because it’s too hard to believe in nothing.

The truth is… the world is precarious. Just because we have a conscience doesn’t mean the universe does. In fact, that’s what makes it so beautiful. We, as humans, spend our lives trying to figure it all out, expecting some predictable outcome… like how Cinderella wins her prince or how the slow-moving, but determined, tortoise finishes first.

But we don’t live in a children’s book.

We love our patterns and scales and even numbers. We spin our wheels trying to create some bigger picture from all of these random pieces, like trying to put together a bad jigsaw puzzle. So when shit doesn’t add up and the scales don’t balance, we’re left in the middle of the floor, sleepless, on our hands and knees, surrounded by all these pieces, thinking maybe we just aren’t getting it. Maybe there’s another way.

But there’s nothing to get. And even in knowing that, it doesn’t make it any lighter.

Hang onto each other. If we are all we have, we are all we have, you know?

mt

 

Twenty-twenty vision…

Livermore Cemetery, PA // 2020 Copyright Meghan Tutolo

2020, you’re dumped.

If this were middle school and I were 11 again, that’s exactly what I’d say to this year thus far. Here we are. Even with the naive hope that this year might be good, make up for the roller coaster of last year, I can say officially that 2020 is en route to Blowstown. Something like Death, in fact.

No, no… I’m not trying to Emily Dickinson y’all by personifying death, the concept; I’m talking about the tarot card. Number 13 of the major arcana. That Death.

Death is depicted most classically as a skeleton riding a white horse. Often there’s a person or people under that horse with distressed faces—pleading, maybe? It can be interpreted as something like “death comes for all.” It’s more than that, though. While it seems grim and morbid, there’s more depth to the Death card than that.

Rider Waite Tarot - Major Arcana Death XIII

 

I’m not going to lie, though. When I draw this card for myself or others, it’s pretty unnerving. I mean, who wants “Death” to pop up in their spread? The image itself is creepy. But just remember: the Death card is about change, typically an abrupt and sudden change that leads to something new. A transformation of sorts? A death of something? Maybe you didn’t initiate it or plan for it, but sometimes a forced switch of the gears is necessary.

Grim reaper dude here gets a bad rep, for sure, but Death can be a positive card. While change is scary, it’s mostly necessary for growth. So you know, sometimes you have to play the long game? Look at the big picture, as they say.

So… I’m not sure what the Death card means for me personally, but I’ve never been good at dealing with change. Most transformations feel traumatic. The letting go of things is hard—even when what I’m holding to is toxic. I don’t always see it that way. I too often embrace the difficult, the challenging, the things that make me question my own worth. WHAT THE HELL IS THAT? Change is something I often have to dare myself into. But here we are, 2020, and already I can say the year has been difficult… eye-opening.

Ok, so I get it. Life is a chaotic culmination of wins and losses. I’ve got all these damn feelings, and so I’m the type that straps in for it for real, ups and downs (for better or worse). It’s not the usual for me, but I got pretty low recently, more than I’d been in a long time. I guess what’s so scary about it was that I forgot how fucking hard it is to get out and up again.

Snowballing. It started with an injury that had me limping and kept me from the gym. Without that physical outlet and the restraints of literally hobbling around, I caved in on myself. The shit piles that appeared were harder to navigate. Sometimes it’s just the timing and quantity of bad things (no matter how small) that can sink you. At some point there, I found it hard to get out of bed, to find the reasons, you know? This is not my typically sads, but it seemed like everywhere I turned, I hit a wall or a rejection or a silence.

Not to be dramatic, but it’s devastating to learn how very alone you are. It’s like that Dorianne Laux poem I like to reference, “After Twelve Days of Rain.” Nothing is really yours. You are no one’s. None of that matters. This realization can be either liberating or ruinous. I thought I knew this truth. had felt it even. But this latest valley made me realize how easy it is to lose—especially when you don’t have a family—and how important genuine human connection is. (And no, I don’t mean Facebook comments or text messages, but the kind of connection that exists without the white screen.)

God, even the word “need” makes me cringe. I mean, who wants to need anyone? My stepmom used to say, “Your dad wouldn’t ask for a bite of a sandwich if he was starving.” I relate. Too much so. And as you can see, this cycle of needing and then shaming oneself for needing is kind of dangerous. Particularly so when you’re at the bottom… when you need a sandwich.

Maybe this was my abrupt and sudden change? My Death card is a wakeup call?

I’m here rambling to try to figure it all out. That’s part of why I write in general: things get too abstract and tangled upstairs. But also, sharing these things feel important too, because someone out there might need to hear it and know they aren’t the only alien floating around in outer space. Before this, I thought I had my people, but you know, maybe not. And that’s okay. It has to be okay. (I’m telling myself this as much as I am telling you.) Our people are out there. We can throw a pity party for eternity and block out all the good and trust no one… or we can hold our hearts hopeful. We’ll only be extra alone if we don’t stay open. We’ll only become “get-off-my-lawn” old and miserable. Can you dig it?

No matter what, I think I will always carry around this burden of “unlovable.” It’s a chain around my neck, the lack of unconditional love, a family, growing up. I now know that’s what my dad felt and what he has passed onto me. My heart breaks for him. Though I didn’t realize this when he was alive, I think some part of healing myself might just heal him too. Is that crazy?

So here I am. Back to the gym (finally), trying to believe, trying to hope, trying to give myself everything I hoped to get from people who loved me. I don’t know how I will feel tomorrow, but this is how I feel today. It’s okay. I’m telling myself this as much as I am telling you.

mt

 

 

2019, the year of the blog

376 W - Wilkinsburg Exit Meghan Tutolo

Ok, I doubt it. Let’s be real here… I’m always saying I’ll blog more. But what if I really did?

I have this website with my name, an active calendar, a bio in need of an update… and this years-long confessional dating back to when I was still complaining about post-grad life—as if! Why wouldn’t I blog more? Hell, if you know me on social media, you know I’m about as likely to overshare as a Gushers fruit snack—let’s just say I’m an open book. Long-term, I have always wished for a way to tie my writing world into my art world more seamlessly.

I am totally at a spot where I need to decide what my next direction is. Since I love lists, let’s make a damn list about why I’m hesitant to incorporate more of my blog into my art life (or vice versa):

1. I’m not a billboard. The last thing I want to happen is for y’all to think I’m just trying to sell my shit. What if you don’t take me seriously anymore? Of course it’s a way to talk about all the creative things I’m getting into, but I don’t want to become some slick-talking car salesperson.

2. Can I still be a human? I doubt it’s in good taste to be REAL TALK in a space where I’m also linking to my sticker collection on Etsy, you know? I just don’t play phony. How can I be real and be a brand or a business? The truth is I don’t have time to be me and then be some brand. I am my brand. But somehow, I know this will only make things more difficult for me and probably halt progress on the business front. I mean, not everyone who is interested in Pittsburgh souvenirs is going to care about my seasonal depression.

3. What the hell is she, anyway? I do too many things. I’m active in the art community and the writing community. I started the REWIND Reading Series, which I’m super pumped about. I like to take photos with my old instant cameras. Scooting/motorcycling is one of my favorite pastimes. I’m trying to learn stained glass work here soon. I’m obsessed with my smooshy faced cats. And you know, I don’t like to censor my politics, brainstorming about how to do more with art as activism. A blog can either bring all these things together in one spot or confuse the f out of someone.

What do you think? Has anyone else gone through something similar? How do you move through stuck times? Pray? Flip a coin? Pull petals off a flower?

Halp!

All going but gone

Cheswick, PA (2018) - © Meghan Tutolo

There aren’t too many things in this world that last.

See: high school friendships, fashion trends (though they are bound to cycle back), ska music, your favorite cologne, all seasons of The Office available on Netflix. No matter how much you love something, no matter how tightly you squeeze to it… longevity is an illusion.

But we know this, don’t we?

In fact, transience is a truth that is smacked into us from the moment we can want, need, desire things. Days end. Snacks are eaten up. Markers run dry. Toys break. The sun sets and you must go inside. The End couldn’t be a surprise, shouldn’t be. Yet, the anticipation of an end never made it any less devastating. When we were small, we would cry and whine and stomp… and hell, those were socially acceptable things as a kid. Besides, if we were convincing enough in our pout, the tides could turn. Our parents—those minor gods—could grant us more time and more things to prolong these ends.

Still, we came back for more. It didn’t stop us from going back outside or hoping or wishing, getting excited about every last thing we could do. Hope. Possibility. I don’t know what changes, why we can’t live there forever. Was it just that we just needed to accumulate more losses? Or maybe we were more buoyant then.

I write a lot about loss. I can’t help it. It’s the truth that defines me most. The why is another post, really, but the short of it is that I can’t compute. My brain cycles over it… over and over. It’s like that mechanism in me is broken. Move on. Let go. What? And up until recently, I mostly scoffed at the tender fears of others, that empty ache to remain guarded. I couldn’t understand ones need to shut people out, to shut down the world, hide in stuffy apartments without the lights on. You could count on me for handing out the advice TicTacs:

“What are you afraid of, anyhow?”

“What’s the worst that can happen? You’re alone now.”

“Rejection? We’ve all been there.”

“You’re just jaded. I mean, how will you ever be happy if you can’t take the risk?”

It was less judge-y and more “I don’t understand.” Because I didn’t. (I don’t?) I’ve been wounded, waded in chaos, really, but I still willed myself into the day and into people the way a hungry cat might smash itself into your leg, purring: half-hungry, half-doting. It didn’t mean I wasn’t sad or self-loathing, but that I was unhappy with my situation (a.k.a. The Never Enoughs) and so I needed more. I needed (need) more to toss into my bottomless pit. Of course, now I realize that this isn’t how everyone processes unhappiness and grief. Likewise, this can’t go on forever, right?

Admittedly, I’ve been struggling with reconnecting. It feels almost beyond my control.

My question is, though, what if the only way to process loss effectively is to avoid it altogether? And what if this style of coping isn’t a choice, but a mechanism, physiologically speaking? What if, over the years, our body learns without us?

It makes sense that, at some point, the body would take over. It does that, the body—it acts and reacts to its own tune, at times, reminding us we are not in control. For instance, maybe you don’t think you’re nervous, but then your hands shake, your breath quickens, your heart knocks in your ears like a marching band drum line. Likewise, the body has been known to do things in its best interest, to protect itself from common stressors and provocateurs. Hello, survival. But who says it must inform its host—for lack of a better term—on a conscious level?

At some point our body is all: “F you, dude. If you can’t take care of me, I’ll take care of me.”

You know the body—that cocoon we abuse endlessly with chemicals and gluttony and sleeplessness and… need I go on?

No wonder we’re 30 with budding armor: afraid to take risks, afraid to connect, afraid to love. And maybe those protective brain juices have convinced us subconsciously that we don’t want these things, that we’re fine. Why try? You know the hurt that follows. The body doesn’t let us.

Raise your hand if you’ve been the hapless victim of some half-assed solace like this:

“The only constant in life is change itself.”

Ugh. Gross. (Besides, Heraclitus of Ephesus was kind of an asshole.)

But the point is… shit doesn’t work. We know this. We’ve known it. But it still cuts. And you can cry or stomp or sing or whiskey it away, but it’s there, loss—as big as an anvil swinging above from a clothesline.

This thought comes to me, because yesterday, as I sat in my car at a red light, my eyes tried to leak on me. Perfect. A cry triggered by some trite line in a song that I hear often—nonsense, really. But it reminded me of someone I lost, a pain I should be immune to by now. And so I realize again (and again and again) that grief might be the thing that goes on forever.

How cruel is the world when everything leaves, but the pain of what is gone.

What to do when you can’t do

Rando typewriter flow

 

You write about not being able to do.

I just spent the last hour trying to find a medium for this rabid, though undeveloped and unsettling outrage. First, I got out a pencil and paper. Then, I opened a Word doc and began a new poem. Frustrated and unable to write that way, I decided to look at one I’d written the other day. No dice. I moved to another folder entitled “Non-fiction,” and opened a few documents to edit.

The state of things (things that I haven’t gotten a chance to dive into all the way yet)—but when should I? Now at 3 A.M.?

These days, I haven’t figured out yet how to balance day-to-day living, productivity and sanity with the research and discussion needed to know to stay on top of politics.

This is why when there are moments of goodness, I grab onto them. Even if it’s just the crisp colors of sunset over the Mon. Even if it’s just my cat waking me up with his purr and whisker-tickle technique. I don’t know. I’m hanging on. Because, like it has felt all along since the beginning of this presidency, it isn’t about me. It’s bigger. How does one exist and not exist at the same time?

Feeling feels in a Post-Truth World

"Sweet Submerged" by Meghan Tutolo
 
 

It’s hard to have feelings.

No, really! I’m not sure if this is new or I’m just taking notice, but why is it that everyone is always trying to shut down everyone else’s emotions (and in turn, their own)? Lately, I’ve been feeling mega-frustrated with this—almost more of a heaviness than the original emotion itself. Does anyone else feel as if they are constantly defending their feelings? And no, I don’t mean in a political way or any conspiracy-crazed way. I’m talking personal stuff: friends, family, coworkers, etc.
 
This isn’t to say I haven’t been guilty of it. Hell, we all have. It’s part of this good-intentioned consoling power we think we must have. As if one might be able to wave his or her hands hands, instill some Should Be Grateful or Bright Side or Silver Lining… all better now. You know what I’m talking about. When’s the last time you DIDN’T hear these responses:
 
“It’ll be ok.”
 
“You have nothing to worry about.”
 
“Don’t be so nervous.”
 
“Oh, here’s 19 reasons why you shouldn’t feel this way.”
 
“Calm down.”

“I think you’re overreacting.”
 
“Don’t cry.”
 
“At least, this other dumb or horrible thing isn’t the case.”
 
No wonder we, as a society, have such a hard time with expressing emotions. We are constantly told to, expected to, asked to, shamed into “getting over it” and being grateful. Maybe if we were actually just allowed to have the feelings—to feel them and express them—we could work on our shit and really truly get over it, instead of just running from it. The catch-up or rebound or whatever has been hitting hard these days. There’s no getting over.
 
You know what I’ve learned to do? Shut my mouth. And it isn’t working for me. I feel empty and disconnected… and when the time comes and the world turns a bit more slowly (I’m usually driving or riding), what has been silenced becomes a monster. It feels like an anvil to the gut.
 
When was the last time someone actually just wanted to join you? Like feel your feels with you? And that’s it? Empathy. No policing, no 14 reasons why you’re wrong to feel the way you feel and no forced gratitude. What if we could just be in it with people? No more crossing our arms and deciding when and how much someone should be feeling? Actual empathy. Actual connection.

Yeah, perhaps some people and situations call for objective reasoning, some advice, some friendly ear flicks to wake up the disillusioned… but first, just let them feel. Listen. Listen. Listen, damnit. No one is wrong for having an emotional reaction, even if you think he or she shouldn’t. You can help he or she process it, if needed. But don’t tell your friends they are wrong or lead them to that conclusion. Why? What is that doing for them or you?
 
I’m going to work on this so hard. In my own need to shut off and run, I have imposed the same on those around me. Coward, I am.
 
 
 
 

Living and running

Pittsburgh scootin'

 

This is a year for living.

That’s what I keep telling myself. Every time I walk away from a blank Word doc. Every time I decide to take a ride rather than write a letter. Every time I put off what I should be doing (i.e. scheduling car appointments, doctor appointments, vacuuming, etc.)

If nothing else, this election and resulting presidency (along with all its little heartbreaks and setbacks and mini strokes) has me full speed ahead. Into what? Uncertainty, mostly. But definitely art, definitely risk-taking. I’ve opened my own Etsy shop, got at least one vendor show under my belt and have been riding around in a motor scooter.s

“I’m living,” I say to myself from the inside of my spaceman-like helmet as I cross the Birmingham Bridge one day.

Behind the silvery mirror-like shield over my face, I’m grinning like a wild woman. Admittedly, I’m mostly smiling there. Or gritting my teeth (on like every turn). Or crying. I cry a lot on the scooter. Thankfully I had enough foresight to order that damn mirror-like Bubbleshield that you can’t really see through. I mean, can you just imagine looking over on your commute home to see a red-faced woman crying on her black-and-chrome scooter weaving between potholes and tar snakes on Beechwood Boulevard?

A call the scooter my mindfulness in these hectic times. I can’t do 900 things. I can’t pace or run around or make things. I am focused and alert. And because of it, sometimes the feels come rushing back, as though I’d been running from them all along.

Living or running. Living or keeping myself occupied. Living or wading out the storm, up to my ears in art and art supplies, up until the wee hours of the morning because it is finally quiet and I can chill without feeling like I’m missing something—another headline, another atrocity, another outrage.

But there’s a beauty, a sensory type of travel and place that you don’t experience in a “cage,” as riders call the call. The tears are mostly good tears, or so it seems. I can’t say I’ve had that happen too often, good tears. Those were reserved for moms at weddings, not for childless 30-somethings crossing the Oakmont Bridge at sunset.

As I sit down once more to write, I think about my scooter… about the sun that will drop soon and how I could get in a few more miles, conjure some sort of errand or excuse. And hey, in Pittsburgh, a nice day isn’t one to waste.

I hope you are all living… doing whatever it is that can keep you sane in these turbulent times. Maybe later is for overthinking and processing. For now, maybe it’s time to enjoy what is in front of you. If you spend 1-2 hours reading the news, spend 1-2 hours playing the violin, or whatever it is you people do. Don’t forget taking care of you is a way to resist in itself.

<3

mt

Filling up my meter

Image from simqueen.wordpress.com
If you’ve ever played the Sims, you know that for nearly every action or interaction—whether it’s talking to a family member, pulling weeds from the garden or observing a new piece of art—your Sim (depending on his/her personality) will react with plusses and minuses. Every moment is more like a transaction. 

I once conjured a super anal, flannel-wearing Virgo with a shaggy beard, OCD tendencies and a love of classical music. His favorite color was green and his name was Aiden. The dude was annoyed with just about everything. In particular, he hated when his mother-in-law baited him in conversation. Most oft, he was just trying to make some pancakes (another of his favorites), but she would block him from getting to the refrigerator, waving her hands like a madwoman as she discussed dollar signs and gossiped about the neighbors. Not only did he not enjoy small talk, but if the toilet or the sink was dirty when he tried to get ready for work, he’d throw a fit and clean, missing his carpool altogether. Not even the act of cleaning nor the resulting sparkling bowls were enough to make tiny blue plus signs appear! And then I’d have to spend more time on him, trying to up his mojo for the day so he would want to go to work the next day (and so on). Difficult dude. 
I know how crazy this all sounds. But bear with me. The point is… we all have our Aiden days.
 
And on days like today, I think about that point system, how we are all just action and reaction… that simple (and that complex). Depending on how we were raised, our past experiences, sensitivity and mood, some of us are predisposed to get the feels, or not. Some of us are more or less affected. While some peeps are easy to rattle, others seem brick-like and unable to be touched. There are the sad and the overjoyed, the busied and the lazy. But no matter who we are, we might find ourselves in the negative… because we had a disappointing conversation with a friend, burnt our pancakes or came home to too many dishes in the sink. Or you know, maybe it’s just that all of those things happened in one day.

Shit, I know it’s me. But I keep bumping into blahs. Just one of those days whereliving feels hard and maybe even pointless, and boy, do I know how melodramatic it sounds… but like my mouse-hand, I an trying to find the things to up my meter. 7:05 p.m. And now, after collecting final papers from students, I can go home and paint, love on my cats and A… and fill up my meter. 

What do you do when you’re having a bad day? How do you make the plusses appear over your head?

Tell me things. 

mt